Cheng Yujin also learned that none of the concubines of the previous emperor who had offended Empress Dowager Yang ended up well, especially Noble Consort Lian, whose entire family perished with her and her son. However, even the concubines who had never offended Empress Dowager Yang were all assigned to guard the imperial mausoleum, subjected to a harsh and desolate life for the rest of their lives. It was somewhat understandable to treat enemies harshly and mercilessly, but Empress Dowager Yang spared no effort to torment even the concubines who never offended her. For what reason?
Empress Dowager Yang was too ruthless in her conduct and couldn’t tolerate others at all. It was a small wonder that she even treated the five-year-old Li Chengjing so maliciously.
Cheng Yujin frowned for a while and then said tentatively, “Your Highness, you said that your mother’s due date was originally in the sixth month, but she suddenly went into labor prematurely. All these years, Empress Dowager Yang has been using the matter of your birth date to claim that you are ominous and won’t live long, and finally forced you to move to that Taoist temple. Could it be…”
Li Chengjing’s eyes darkened, and the surrounding atmosphere turned heavy and suffocating. Even without him saying a word, Cheng Yujin already knew the answer.
The child in Cheng Yujin’s arms suddenly burst into tears. Cheng Yujin hurriedly lowered her head and found that it was Mingqian making mischief again. The boy pinched his sister’s arm, causing her to cry in pain. Cheng Yujin hurriedly separated the two children and soothed her wronged daughter. Li Mingqian’s evil deeds were exposed in front of his parents, and this time, not even his father could bail him out of his crime. Li Chengjing gently hit Mingqian’s hand and reprimanded, “You are the elder brother; why are you bullying your little sister?”
After the husband and wife finished dressing up their children, they also got changed before departing to attend the New Year’s Grand Assembly. Today, Cheng Yujin was the star. The crowd’s attention went wherever she went, overshadowing even Empress Yang’s light.
Since the birth of the dragon and phoenix twins, Empress Yang had lost a lot of faces and refused to even see Dou Xiyin. However, today’s Grand Assembly was the imperial family’s most important ceremony of the year, and being absent was not an option. Dou Xiyin put on a nonchalant attitude as she attended the ceremony under countless scrutinizing gazes. The guests greeted Dou Xiyin as usual, but their eyes were full of mockery, especially as they compared her with Cheng Yujin.
Dou Xiyin was extremely annoyed. What’s even more hateful was the difference between herself and Cheng Yujin. People drove in endless flocks, as if they couldn’t wait to have a word with the Crown Princess. The more attention Cheng Yujin received, the more hatred grew in Dou Xiyin’s heart.
However, Cheng Yujin obviously had no time to pay attention to Dou Xiyin’s mood — not that she cared anyway. An endless stream of people came to greet her one after another, especially after the Grand Assembly ended and the guests were free to move around.
Today was the first day of the new year and also the full month ceremony for Li Mingqian and Li Mingyue. The Emperor intended to use the twins to lift the public’s mood. Last year was devastated by the floods and plagues, causing many bad rumors to spread among the people. The Emperor deliberately ordered for the twins’ full month ceremony to be held together with the Grand Assembly on the first day of the new year, so that to welcome good fortune and get rid of bad luck.
Cheng Yujin had just given birth and couldn’t stand for a long time, so she retreated to the side hall for a quick rest right after the Grand Assembly finished. There was still some time before the banquet began. Many female guests brought their family members to the side hall to greet the Crown Princess. When they saw the twins, they would inevitably let out lavish praises.
When one of the madams saw Li Mingqian and Li Mingyue, her eyes were twinkling with admiration: “Crown Princess is really lucky. Even putting aside the fact that they are dragon and phoenix twins, these children are truly adorable. Children are indeed a bundle of joy. This subject wife can only wish that my daughters-in-law will also add children to the family this year.”
Cheng Yujin replied with a smile, “Marchioness is wise and kind, and your family is blessed. You surely will get your wish.”
No one disliked receiving auspicious words in the New Year. The Marchioness smiled gratefully as she said again, “Thank you for your kind words, Your Highness. Allow this subject wife will borrow your auspicious words. We heard that His Majesty greatly adores the little Junwang and the little Junzhu, and that he cannot wait to inquire about them every day. Unfortunately, it is winter now. Both the little Junwang and little Junzhu are still so young to be exposed to cold wind. Come summer, and you will be able to take them outside to bask in the sun. By then, I am sure the entire palace will be rushing to see the two highnesses and get enamored by their loveliness.”
Hearing these flattering words, Cheng Yujin just pursed her lips and smiled without saying a word. These people’s intention to please her was too blatant. It was no wonder, however, as even the blinds could see what future the Eastern Palace held. Anyone in the capital, as long as they were not out of their minds, knew that they should hurry up and curry favor with the future imperial couple.
Cheng Yujin glanced at the two children. There was undisguised tenderness in her eyes as she spoke of them, “As long as they are safe, I will ask nothing more.”
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